Dream Baby (Formerly Blackbird)
162 Avenue B, East Village, New York City
Getting There: L to 1st Avenue
The dive bar once known as the Lakeside Lounge (and subsequently, Blackbird) on Avenue B is no more. Times change and with that change comes substantial improvement, in this case- to the competitive world of the New York City bar industry. Enter Dream Baby, a slightly refined, slightly stripped down spot that has cleaned up its divey predecessor’s act, while keeping this place distinctly East Village. Maybe it was the head bobbing tunes played at a enjoyable volume or maybe the fact this establishment comes from the creators of Bowery Electric and Niagara, two bars we down right love- whatever the case, we were itching to check it out.
As we approached the brand spanking new joint we could tell that Dream Baby isn’t trying to draw you inside with some flashy sign or a gigantic awning boasting its name. Instead it’s owners took a subtle yet attractive approach by creating a black rout iron gate entrance that allows Dream Baby to show off without, showing off. Once inside, smatterings of whites and blacks dominate the front bar space, giving Dream Baby a classic feel of old New York with an extra note of rock n’ roll charm. If you’re not one to stand while imbibing, no problem. The bar features a number of very comfortable and cool black cushioned booths, perfect for small parties or to meet for drinks on a first date. Pony up to the front retro-styled bar to get up close and personal with their selection of tasty craft beers. During our visit we grabbed pints of local favorite Kelso of Brooklyn and micro beer darlings Lagunitas IPA.
One of our favorite aspects of Dream Baby is how the place forces you to be social, in the best possible sense of the word. Look at any wall, and you will not spot one television. You have no excuse not to talk to your friends, or meet new ones. From the placement of the bar stools to the booths, patrons are encouraged to simply enjoy each other’s company holding a cold beer or delicious mixed drink. You may think the space ends with this front space, but hold your horses buddy. Just travel mere feet from the left side of the bar, and the room doubles in size when the full space is opened up. This side space is another bar altogether, with a distinct lounge room feel. A small yet ornate bar sits catty cornered to the wall selling many of the same beers in the front while two large couches both black and white adorn the floor. A planted DJ booth for wilder nights is also stationed here. Dream Baby’s been dubbed by one of the owners as “a place for adults to go out.” We’re just happy to be of age to find our way inside because Alphabet City just got a whole lot cooler.
- Jay Rubin & Jane Van Arsdale